For many people, coping with migraines means dealing with them alone, using over-the-counter medications and isolating themselves. Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing Lincoln Division and Bryan Medical Center set out to study the effectiveness of an intervention aimed at reducing the occurrence and severity of migraine headaches in people who were not being treated.  The study recruited 80 female employees and students at the nursing college between the ages of 25 and 67. During the course of the study participants were taught how to identify and avoid migraine triggers, educated on lifestyle and dietary changes and were given prescriptions for medications to prevent and treat migraines. Results of the study were impressive.  Participants reported a decrease in migraine frequency by 76% (from an average of two migraines a week to one). Pain severity decreased by 31% and perception of disability from headaches decreased by 66%. Study co-leader Nancy Waltman, Ph.D. said “We’ve found that a lot of women remain silent and don’t get treated for their migraines. The best treatment is a combination of dietary changes, adjustments in sleep and exercise, avoiding triggers and preventative medications.” Waltman acknowledged there were limitations to the study due to the small sample size of workers, all from the same occupational setting. “Another reason for this study was to gauge the feasibility of studying this intervention in a larger study,” said Waltman.

Catherine Parker, a nurse manager and study co-leader stressed the significance of employers recognizing employees who suffer from migraines and their assistance in facilitating referrals for medical treatment. “It’s also important if employers can provide an outlet for exercise, stress management and massage therapy which are all useful for migraine headache sufferers.”    Medical News Today   2/14/13

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